Los Angeles, California
Largest university of the state of Arizona in Phoenix.
After seeing a big city like LA with LA beaches, a helicopter drag race and amazing food we expected a few calmer days traveling landward. We departed early from Stay and left for Phoenix, a city some of us had never heard of. A 600 km drive ahead of us.
Traveling east the temperatures were rising and the air became dryer and dryer. It was not long before we saw our first cactus, something we hadn't seen in the deserts of China. We all took way too long for the first swapping moment, buying ice cream, staring at the desert mountains and checking out an ancient refueling station with cars from the 1920's. Luckily the second stop was in the middle of the desert with nothing to distract us, because we were expected at the Arizona State University by four.
Despite STORM habit, we surprised an audience of mostly Dutch people at ASU by arriving exactly on time, which was 15 minutes earlier than planned. The team didn't mind though, because this gave us extra time to enjoy the early dinner with traditional Angus burgers and a very surprising delicacy: Dutch bitterballen (croquette balls of ragout and beef). They weren't exactly like back home, but close enough. It felt a bit like being back in the Netherlands, speaking Dutch and eating bitterballen.
The Dutch experience was complete when Yuri was introduced by the honorary consul wearing an orange shirt. Yuri's presentation was well received and raised a lot of questions from the audience. Our presentation was followed by a presentation from LocalMotors, a company that produces custom automotive prototypes. Local Motors pretty much does what we did, except they are able to produce series of up to 2000 vehicles and they're getting paid for it.
After presenting ourselves, it was time to go to the ASU dormitories where we would stay the night and afterwards go for a second dinner. At the dormitories we already noticed that the people here were real students. There was a promotional movie screening with free pizza on one of the fields and we saw people with all kinds of fraternity titles on their oversized sweatshirts. We had dinner at a Mexican fastfood restaurant and we soon spotted a girl from AlphaPhi just walking out the door. Maurice was not shy at all and ran after her to find out where we could find a real frat party.
We got an address, so after dinner we bought some beers and headed for the house the AlphaPhi girl sent us to. We were warned that it would be difficult to get in, so Maurice and I went ahead to introduce ourselves, before the other crew of 6 guys showed up. Unfortunately, they were willing to let the two of us in, and additional girls were welcome as well, but the STORM gang was not allowed in. We were disappointed, because it looked like a real American Pie style party with red cups and beer pong in the house of a student whose parents were obviously away for the weekend. What you don't see in the movies though is that people attending these parties are only 18 years old and only come to these parties because they are not allowed to drink in bars. The second the host heard we were all 21 or older he laughed at us for trying to get in and sent us to Mill street.
At Mills we saw a few amazing bars, we drank a cocktail bucket and saw western girls in cowboy boots, shorts and checked shirts being tossed around on the dancefloor. It was a Wednesday night though, so we checked out in time to get some sleep and get ready for the next day.